9 January 2014

Work experience of a life-time with American Express in the Big Apple!

Day 5 Skyline
View from the Empire State Building

When I landed in a freezing, wintry, New York on the night of Thanksgiving, even the long hours of travel, harrowing connections and stale airplane food could not contain my excitement on finally reaching the Big Apple!

My brief was to job shadow Mr. James Ferguson, Vice President Corporate Cards at American Express New York.  I have only ever been to New York as a tourist before, and to be there again, getting a flavour of what it would be like to live and work in the city that never sleeps, promised to be an experience of a lifetime.

James Ferguson, Vice President Corporate Cards at American Express New York

American Express NY is located at 3 World Financial Centre in Lower Manhattan. In fact, the walk to the office took me right past the Ground Zero memorial site, where the Freedom Tower is now being built. I was moreover told that the American Express building had also been severely damaged in the 9/11 attacks, requiring extensive repair for a period of one year. Therefore, it felt very poignant to have the opportunity to work in a place that was so much a part of New York’s history.

My first couple of days at AMEX, were spent getting an overview of the Company and how Global Commercial Services (i.e. the GCS Division-of which James was a key executive) fit into the global structure. James also introduced me to various teams such as investment prioritisation, sales, treasury, financial reporting etc. and I was able to get first hand details of how the various departments functioned.

Day 2 - AMEX
Myself and Valerie from the Customer Card business

The rest of my time was spent sitting in on the Global Corporate Services planning meetings, where all the divisions within the Corporate Cards business came together to set deadlines for their Quarterly Reporting. These meetings provided me with some insight into the complexities involved in reporting, much like various jigsaw pieces that had to be assembled to create a picture at the corporate level. 

And of course, no trip to New York is complete without the touristy traditions of a visit to the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, not to mention Macy’s on it’s infamous Black Friday Sales. In fact, New York at this time of the year is truly at its festive best with Christmas carollers outside all major department stores, dazzling Christmas lights lining all the trees on 5th Avenue, not to mention the giant Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree.

Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree

Overall, my NY experience surpassed all my expectations and has certainly created a lot of special memories.

Shreya Viswanathan: Current Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Sydney Business School and 2013 winner of the prestigious Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia 'Mission Exceptional' competition.  Shreya’s prize included a trip to New York in December to job shadow a Chartered Accountant at American Express and a scholarship to the Chartered Accountants Program.

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